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Cambone statement on prisoner abuse

The opening statement of Stephen Cambone, U.S. undersecretary of defense for intelligence, before the Senate Armed Services Committee,  concerning Iraqi prisoner abuse.

The opening statement of Stephen Cambone, U.S. undersecretary of defense for intelligence, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, concerning Iraqi prisoner abuse.

Before going further, let me say we are dismayed by what took place.

The Iraqi detainees are human beings, they were in U.S. custody, we had an obligation to treat them right, and we didn't do that. That was wrong. And I associate myself without reservation to the sentiments expressed by the secretary.

To those Iraqis mistreated by the U.S. armed forces, I offer my deepest apology. It was un-American and it was inconsistent with the values of our nation.

Now, a number of issues arose related to those events during the hearing last Friday which, as Senator Levin has noted, were not fully engaged. And I wanted to tick off a short list that we have been developing since then as a way of preparation in answer to the questions we know that you have.

But before I go through those, let me say again that we will give you this information today to the best of our knowledge. We do not have yet all of the facts related to this case. There are at least five other investigations ongoing, and we will need that information in order to come to a full understanding.

So first, with respect to the application of the Geneva Convention to detainees in Iraq, from the outset of the war in Iraq, the United States government has recognized and made clear that the Geneva Conventions apply to our activities in that country. Members of our armed forces should have been aware of that. If they were not -- if they were not, Lieutenant General Sanchez, the CJTF-7 commander, reminded them on more than one occasion that the forces under his command operated under that obligation.

Nevertheless there clearly was a breakdown in following Geneva Convention procedures at Abu Ghraib, and we are in the process, as you know, of investigating why that happened.

As Major General Miller, who is now in charge of detainee operations in Iraq, remarked on Saturday, the procedures established for interrogations in Iraq were sanctioned under the Geneva Convention and authorized in U.S. Army manuals.

All permissible interrogation activities were within the requirements and boundaries of applicable provisions of the convention. We are currently investigating why soldiers -- some soldiers at Abu Ghraib did not abide by those understood procedures and guidance.

Early in the war on terrorism, long before the war in Iraq, the president made a determination that the Geneva Convention did not apply to al-Qaida detainees. That decision was made because the Geneva Conventions govern conflicts between states and al-Qaida is not a state, much less a signatory of the convention. Moreover the conventions forbid the targeting of civilians and require that military forces wear designated uniforms to distinguish them from noncombatants.

Terrorists don't care about the Geneva Convention, nor do they abide by its guidelines. They deliberately target civilians, for example, and have brutalized and murdered innocent Americans.

To grant terrorists the rights they so cruelly reject would make a mockery of the Geneva Conventions. Nevertheless President Bush did order -- did order that detainees held at Guantanamo be treated humanely and consistent with the convention's principles and, in fact, those detainees in the war on terror are being provided with many of the privileges typically afforded to enemy prisoners of war.

The notion that this decision in some way undermined the Geneva Convention or created a poor climate is false. To the contrary, the administration made this decision with the objective of assuring that those who would claim protection under its auspices and not act in keeping with its intent did not abuse the Geneva Convention. Far from disrespect, the decision was made out of a notion of respect.

The notion of a departmental belief that the alleged climate created and led to abuse in Iraq is therefore not in keeping with clear and stated determination to adhere to the Geneva Convention.

Second, Major General Miller's recommendations: Major General Miller was sent to Iraq -- it was late August of '03.

Based on his experience with the flow of information gained by interrogation at Guantanamo Bay, he was sent under joint staff auspices, and as I said on Friday before this committee, with my encouragement to determine if the flow of information to CJTF-7 and back to the subordinate commands could be improved. He laid out an approach to do this in a series of recommendations to General Sanchez -- recommendations to General Sanchez. He had no directive authority in that visit.

One recommendation on detention operations was to dedicate and train a detention guard force subordinate to the joint intelligence commander that would, in the words of General Taguba's report and others, set the conditions for the successful interrogation and exploitation of internees and detainees.

In making this recommendation, Major General Miller was underscoring the need for military police and military intelligence personnel, both of whom serve different functions, to act in a fashion such that the one, military police, did not undermine the efforts of the other, military intelligence, to discover during interrogation information that was important to coalition forces and to the lives of Iraqi civilians.

Consequently, he underscored the need for legal review of his recommendations by a dedicated command staff judge advocate.

With respect to detention operations, Major General Miller noted that their purpose is to provide a safe, secure and humane environment that supports the expeditious collection of intelligence. In addition, he observed that detention operations must be structured to ensure the detention environment focuses these internees' confidence and attention on their interrogators. He recommended training in building the teamwork the interrogator and detention staffs needed to accomplish the objective.

The order placing the military police at Abu Ghraib under the tactical control of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade -- and here, for more of the detail, I can defer to General Smith -- but on November 19th of 2003, General Sanchez issued an order effectively placing Abu Ghraib under the tactical control of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade.

This order was within the authority of General Sanchez to give. And, as I say, Lieutenant General Smith might elaborate on the reasons that the order was given.

But what it did is it gave a senior officer responsibility for the facility -- for the facility. We needed someone to take care of such matters as security, force protection, the internal security, living conditions for the troops and other things. It did not give, as far as I understand it, the military intelligence brigade commander authority over military police operations.

And as I might note, if you look at General Karpinski's CNN interview last night, she makes comments to that effect.

Let me stress that the promulgation of the order in no way changed the rules governing the conduct of military police and military personnel in Iraq with respect to the laws of war, the Geneva Convention, CENTCOM directions or CJTF directions and instructions.

Third, the role of contractors: Contractors may not perform interrogations except under the supervision of military personnel. There may have been circumstances under which this regulation was not followed; I cannot tell you that it was followed in all respects. This is a matter that General Fay is now examining.

In addition, contractors may not supervise or give orders or direction to military personnel. And while contractors are not under military discipline -- another issue raised on Friday -- they are subject to suspension from their contracts by the government for cause.

Furthermore, criminal sanctions for any crimes a contractor may commit may be available in U.S. federal court and may be referred to U.S. federal court.

Fourth, with respect to the oversight of military intelligence, criminal investigation and the operations of combatant commanders, I have, on page eight of the statement that I prepared for you, listed the roles of the office I presently hold, that of the joint command, and that of the services.

I then go on and talk about oversight of criminal investigation and the role of the DOD I.G.'s office and the counterintelligence oversight.

On page nine, I begin, The actions under way. The secretary reviewed those with you on Friday and I will not take your time here unless the committee wishes to return to them, but to add one development since we were here last, and that is that the secretary is now preparing a personal message for the men and women of the armed forces underscoring his dismay over the events at Abu Ghraib, expressing his confidence in the valor and professionalism of the men and women, stressing, once again, that the Geneva Convention applies to our conflict in Iraq, and expressing his confidence in the ultimate success of our mission in Iraq.

Mr. Chairman, this is an occasion to demonstrate to the world the difference between those who believe in democracy and those who do not. We value human life, we believe in the right to individual freedom and the rule of law. And for those beliefs, we send our men and women abroad to protect that right for our own people and to give millions of others hope for freedom in the future.

Part of that mission is making sure that when wrongdoing or scandal is heard it's not covered up, but exposed, investigated, publicly disclosed, and the guilty brought to justice.

I believe we can repair the damage done to our credibility in the region.

If we hold true to our principles and continue to keep our commitments to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, eventually the nobility of that mission will touch the hearts of more people in the Arab world. I am confident of this because of the outstanding service that has been rendered by the vast majority of the men and women of the U.S. armed forces.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am Major General Antonio Taguba, the deputy commanding general for support, Army Central Command and Combined Forces Land Component Command, that is headquartered in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

On 24 January, 2004, I was directed by Lieutenant General David McKiernan, the commanding general, ARCENT/CFLCC, to conduct an investigation into the allegations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison, which is also known as the Baghdad Central Confinement Facility.

And I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the purpose, the findings and the recommendation of that investigation.

The purpose of the investigation with specific instructions were as follows: first, inquire into all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the recent allegations of the detainee abuse, specifically allegations of maltreatment at the Abu Ghraib Prison.

Second, inquire into detainee escapes and accountability lapses as reported by CJTF-7, specifically allegations concerning these events at the Abu Ghraib Prison.

Third, investigate the training, the standards, employment, command policies, internal procedures, and command climate in the 800 M.P. Brigade as appropriate.

And finally, make specific findings of facts concerning all aspects of this investigation and make recommendations for corrective action as appropriate.

My investigation team consisted of officers and senior enlisted personnel for our military policemen, experts in detention and corrections, judge advocates, psychiatrists and public affairs officers.

At the onset, I did not have military intelligence officers or experts in military interrogation in my team because the scope of my investigation dealt principally with detention operations and not intelligence-gathering or interrogations operations.

However, during the course of my team's investigation, we gathered evidence pertaining to the involvement of several military intelligence personnel or contractors assigned to the 205th M.I. Brigade and the alleged detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib.

As stated in the findings of the investigation, we recommended that a separate investigation be initiated under the provisions of procedure 15, Army regulation 381-10, concerning possible improper interrogation practices in this case.

Again, my task was limited to the allegations of detainee abuse involving M.P. personnel and the policies, procedures and command climate of the 800th M.P. Brigade.

As I assembled the investigation team, my specific instructions to my teammates were clear: maintain our objectivity and integrity throughout the course of our mission in what I considered to be a very grave, highly sensitive and serious situation; to be mindful of our personal values and the moral values of our nation; and to maintain the Army values in all of our dealings; and to be complete, thorough and fair in the course of the investigation.

Bottom line: We will follow our conscience and do what is morally right.

As agonizing as this investigation was, I commend the exceptional professionalism of my teammates, their extraordinary efforts and the outstanding manner by which they carried out my instructions.

I also commend the courage and selfless service of those soldiers and sailors who brought these allegations to light, discovered evidence of abuse, and turned it over to the military law enforcement authorities.

The criminal acts of a few stand in stark contrast to the high professionalism, competence and moral integrity of countless active, Guard and Army Reserve soldiers that we encountered in this investigation.

At the end of the day, a few soldiers and civilians conspired to abuse and conduct egregious acts of violence against detainees and other civilians outside the bounds of international law and the Geneva Convention.

Their incomprehensible acts, caught in their own personal record of photographs and video clips, have seriously maligned and impugned the courageous acts of thousands of U.S. and coalition forces.

It put into question the reputation of our nation and the reputation of those who continue to serve in uniform, and who would willingly sacrifice their lives to safeguard our freedom.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today. I look forward to answering your questions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.